Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have said that they might have found a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus, US publication New York Post reported on Thursday, the day when the number of positive cases across the world crossed a million mark. The news report cited a study published by the scientists in EBioMedicine, with the researchers from the university's School of Medicine stating in study that the vaccine could be rolled out quickly to "significantly impact the spread of the disease."
The New York Post reported that the new vaccine had been tested on mice and it had produced "enough antibodies to counter the virus." The scientists have been quoted as qualifying their findings by highlighting that the mice hadn't been studied in a while. However, they also note that enough antibodies against the virus had been produced within two weeks of them being administered the vaccine.
The Pittsburgh researchers said that they were able to act fast as they had already done their research on similar coronaviruses, SARS and MERS. According to co-senior author Andrea Gambotto, MD associate professor of surgery at the Pitt School of Medicine, both the viruses are closely related to SARS-COV-2. The two viruses impart crucial lessons about 'spike protein', believed to be important for inducing immunity against the coronavirus.
“We knew exactly where to fight this new virus,” the New York Post quoted her as saying.
The modus operandi of administering the new potential vaccine follows a different approach from the traditional injection-based method, employing the use of a patch to deliver spike protein to the organism. According to the researchers, a patch comprises 400 "microneedles, in turn made of sugar and protein pieces. In layman terms, a patch would be applied like a Band-Aid, with needles dissolving into the skin once it is administered.
A press release issued by the researchers said that the vaccine would be "highly scalable" for widespread use, in an indication that, if successful, the vaccine could be deployed for mass use straightaway.
The study's authors are now applying for investigational new drug approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are hoping to start clinical trials in the next few months, as per the New York Post.